Bollywood musical DDLJ accused of 'whitewashing'

August 6, 2022 12:00 pm

[Source: BBC]

Fans of one of the biggest Bollywood films have criticised the decision to remake it as a musical where a main character is reimagined as a white man.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, known as DDLJ, is being adapted for Broadway as Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical.

But the renaming of the character Raj as a white man named Rog has led to accusations of “whitewashing”.

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The role – originally being played by Shah Rukh Khan in the 1995 film – will be played on stage by Austin Colby.

“Whitewashing” is the practice of casting white actors in non-white roles.

And followers of the popular original film say they are shocked that it is taking place in 2022.

Famous Indian chef Vikas Khanna tweeted to his 2.2 million followers that after initial excitement at a stage adaptation, he feels it’s “terrible”.

And 20-year-old fan Paridhi Puri said: “It’s just truly horrible from every aspect, whitewashing the role of Raj.”

For Paridhi, the “diaspora angle” of the film is one of the reasons why it’s so valued and iconic.

Both characters are non-resident Indians (NRIs), with “the sense of immigration and how it feels to live in a foreign land” being strong in the film.

“The push and pull of what a lot of NRIs relate to, having one foot in India and abroad. It must have been so fresh and eye-opening for that time,” Paridhi tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

She says, as with any remake, there’s a chance to make it “a better story” and address bits which may not have aged well over time.

But she says South Asian-American actors would want “to be considered and see their culture in a place which historically doesn’t reflect” it, so the casting should show that for a main role.

Paridhi feels DDLJ goes beyond being “a simple movie”, as it “has bridged generation, from my grandparents, parents to me, and I’m sure the next gen will be too”.